Ash Barty Becomes First Australian Woman In 41 Years To Reach Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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Ash Barty Becomes First Australian Woman In 41 Years To Reach Wimbledon Final

The world No.1 overcame a blip during the second set of her match against Angelique Kerber to reach only the second major final of her career.

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Ashleigh Barty (AUS) playing against Angelique Kerber (GER) in the semi-final of the Ladies' Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 10 Thursday 08/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Ash Barty is a win away from lifting the Wimbledon title after defeating former champion Angelique Kerber in a tight straight sets encounter. 

The world No.1 overcame some stern opposition from her opponent to prevail 6-3, 7-6(3), at The All England Club on what is the 10th anniversary of her triumph in the junior competition. In what was both a physical and mental challenge, Barty was forced to recover from a 1-4 deficit in the second set en route to becoming the first woman from her country to reach the final since her idol Evonne Goolagong in 1980. In her latest performance she blasted eight aces and 38 winners past Kerber.

“This is close to as good of a tennis match that I will ever play. Angie brought the best out of me and it was a hell of a match right from the first ball. I knew it had to be that good just to compete with her,” said Barty.
“I’m incredibly proud of myself and my team. Now we get a chance on Saturday to try and live out our childhood dream.” She added.

Playing in her first Wimbledon semi-final at the age of 25, Barty overcame some initial nerves early on against her more experienced opponent. Kerber won the tournament back in 2018 and has won more Tour matches on the grass than most active players apart from both of the Williams sisters.

It was a single break two games into the opener which proved crucial for the Australian. A Kerber backhand into the net moved Barty to break point which she converted with the help of a winner on the following point. In the lead, she continued to weather the storm during what was a trickier opening set than what the score suggests. Leading 5-3, a deep shot moved Barty to her first set point before she closed it out with an ace out wide.

Dropping the first set served as a wake up call for Kerber who elevated her level by going out guns blazing at the start of the second frame. Hitting the ball cleaner and utilizing the angle shot to her advantage, the world No.22 roared her way to a three-game winning streak. It looked as if Kerber was destined to take the match into a decider as she worked her way to a 5-3 lead. However, at the worst possible moment nerves struck and a series of costly errors let the world No.1 back into the match as she drew level once again.

It was the clutch moments which separated the two players on the court. An anticlimactic end to their clash saw in the second set tiebreak Kerber produced more mistakes as Barty surged to a 6-0 lead. Failing to convert her first three match points, she triumphed on her fourth time attempt after a Kerber backhand slammed into the net on what was her 22nd unforced error of the match.

“I’ve had an incredible journey. I’ve had ups and downs, and everything in between. I wouldn’t change one day or moment in my journey. It’s been unique, it’s been incredible and it’s been tough. There’s so many things that have led to this point,” Barty reflected afterwards.
“Being able to play on the final Saturday at Wimbledon is just going to be the best experience ever.”

The run to the final comes after what has been a difficult past few weeks on the Tour. At the French Open Barty was forced to retire during a match due to a leg injury and couldn’t even play any grasscourt events heading into Wimbledon. An impressive performance for the Australian who says she wouldn’t have been able to achieve the milestone without the support of her team.

“In all the opportunities I get to do, I get to do it with the people that I love,” she said. “People who have given so much of their time to try and help me be the best that I can be. We laugh everyday and smile every day. Sometimes through the heartache but the best moments as well. I want to share it with them.”

Should Barty go on to win the title she would become only the fourth WTA player in history to claim both the junior and senior trophies at Wimbledon after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amélie Mauresmo.

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Alex De Minaur Overcomes Injury To Fulfil Olympic Dream

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ASlex de Minaur - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Alex de Minaur says it is a ‘dream come true’ for him to represent Australia in the Olympic Games after missing the event three years ago.

The world No.6 had been in a race against time to be fit for the Olympic tennis event after suffering an agonising injury setback at Wimbledon earlier this month. At the All England Club de Minaur reached the quarter-final stage for the first time and was set to take on Novak Djokovic. However, he was forced to withdraw from the match after tearing the fibre cartilage in his hip region after suffering a ‘freak’ injury. At the time of the announcement, it was estimated that he would be sidelined from the Tour for three to six weeks. 

However, the 25-year-old appears to have recovered fairly quickly in time for Paris with the tennis tournament starting on Saturday. It will be de Minaur’s debut in the Olympics after he was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Games due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

“To finally be able to represent Australia in the Olympics is a dream come true,” he wrote on Instagram on Tuesday morning.

“I’m very passionate when I play for my country and wear the green and gold, so this is another one of those moments. 

“I’m extremely excited to lace up for Paris 2024.”

De Minaur is bidding to become the first male player from his country to win an Olympic medal in the singles event. He has already won two ATP titles this year in Alcapulco and s-Hertogenbosch. Since the start of January, he has won five out of 11 meetings against top 10 players. 

“It’s really great news – we’re actually expecting Alex to arrive in the village ahead of the official draw (on Thursday) and we know he’s been working with his rehab team quite extensively since the conclusion of Wimbledon,” Australian chef de mission Anna Meares told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“He’s hungry to be here, he wants to be a part of this team and we will offer as much support as we can in that process.

“He’s coming – we will wait to see that process. He still has time … injury can be a really stressful thing for an athlete and the more you rush it, the more problems you can potentially cause.

“We’re leaving it in the hands of Alex and his rehabilitation team … it will be a decision purely by them.” 

De Minaur is one of five Australian men playing in the Paris Olympics. The others are Alexei Popyrin, Matthew Ebden, John Peers and Rinky Hijikata. 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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